In the 1930s as the Great Depression held Australia in its grip and people desperately wanted something to hope for, Harold Lasseter walked into the office of the president of the Australian Workers’ Union with a tale to tell that remains one of Australia’s greatest mysteries to this day.
He told Mr Bailey of a magnificent gold reef that in 1897 he had discovered in the harsh, inhospitable and inaccessible country that is the desert lands where South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory meet. But he lacked the money, manpower and equipment to return to it to exploit it although if the AWU were to back him…
Historian and author Mark Greenwood has taken his fascination with this subject that he first wrote about in The Legend of Lasseter’s Reefand turned it into another episode in this wonderful History Mysteries series, bringing the story of Harold Lasseter and his legendary reef to yet another generation of readers. Was Lasseter genuine – or a conman? Where are the three hills that look like “ladies wearing sunbonnets”, “a group of Dickens women in Dombey and Sons”?, Is there still a rich reef of gold waiting to be discovered – even explorer Dick Smith won’t divulge what he discovered! If it is there, should it be explored and exploited or should the mystery be forever consigned to Australian folklore?
Accompanied by archival photos, a timeline, links to further information and references to his friendship with Lasseter’s son Bob who believes his father’s story and has made several expeditions to reveal the truth, this is just the sort of tale that will grip young readers encouraging them to look backwards as well as forwards and discover the stories of this country.
What do Demeter and Persephone, Finn MacCool and the fish of Maui all have in common? Well, they are included in this collection of stories from around the world beautifully illustrated by Anya Klauss.
In times long past before the truth was known, many of the things like the sun’s passage across the sky or the formation of the land were a mystery to those observing them so they made up stories to explain the particular phenomenon. Even though they came from far-flung places and diverse peoples. their common thread was to explain the seemingly inexplicable so that the world made sense to them. Whether it involved giants, mythical beings and creatures, magic or sorcery, each story sought to demystify and through their telling through generations across thousands of years they have endured, even though science may have intervened to expose the truth.
As well as being a wonderful introduction to these sorts of stories and embracing a range of cultures, such myths can also be the entry point into scientific investigations for young and not-so-young scientists. If Maui did not fish the North Island of New Zealand out of the sea, how did it get there? If the changing of the seasons are not caused by Demeter’s love and loss, how are they formed? A great way to link literature and science and start our students on their own quests.